Monday, 4 July 2011

Against the Odds

Against the Odds by Marjolijn Hof (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $15.99
ISBN 9781742375083
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This is a book about war written for young children aged about eight to eleven years old. First published in the Netherlands this 2009 translation was written, rather interestingly, by two people with the same name (Johanna H Prins and Johanna W Prins). With simple writing appropriate for the audience, Against the Odds deals with the consequences of war and how you feel when something happens to someone you love. It’s dealt with in a gentle way with some humour and is quite moving.

Kiki’s father is a doctor who is frequently away, working to help people in countries at war. Kiki is understandably worried about him although both her parents try to reassure her that he’ll be okay. Her worst fears are realised however when her father actually does go missing. Powerless to do anything about the situation, Kiki finds herself behaving quite strangely. This very believable and sometimes funny response brings the reader closer to Kiki in the confusion and uncertainty surrounding her father’s disappearance. 

Kiki’s voice is distinctive and the writing is clever, saying much in few words. The book has only 126 pages and is broken up into short chapters making it quite easy to read. There are ‘adult’ issues that are dealt with, but they are issues that can and do affect children and are important for them to read about. In writing in such an accessible way Marjolijn Hof manages to both entertain her reader and show them the strength they have as children to cope with just about anything. 

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